Web Exclusives: Raising Kate
a PAW web exclusive column by Kate
Swearengen '04 (email@example.com)
From Alumni Day to
pricey brownie confections
Alumni Weekend 2004
Saturday was perfect. The temperature was above 45 degrees for
the first time in weeks, and Frisbees and high spirits soared. In
celebration of Alumni Weekend, Princeton flags flew from the turrets
of the prettiest buildings. Over at 1879 arch, a red flag bearing
the numbers of that class snapped in the breeze, buoyed by the supernal
laughter of invisible Princeton men.
McCosh Walk was filled with willowy, white-haired men and their
younger mates the Second Wives Club, as I like to think of
them who smiled genially, coating every Gothic surface with
the effluvia of good breeding and old money. They marched off merrily
to Toni Morrison's reading from Love and to "Chemistry in an
Hour," the annual display at Frick in which students in the
department practice alchemy impress the old Tigers, and they'll
buy some more high performance liquid chromotographers for the lab.
One senior in the chemistry department dropped potassium metal into
a beaker of water. The reaction highly exothermic
produced sparks, smoke, and a putrid smell before turning the water
bright pink. The unvoiced question "Why not orange?"
hung in the air, more palpable than the smoke.
The alumni who came back to Princeton last Saturday represented
the mythic Princetonians of popular imagination. These are the alums
who return to Princeton to watch the football team get pummeled
by Yale and to reminisce about the good old days, when they divided
their time between striving for a gentlemanly mediocrity in their
coursework and corrupting Barnard girls at social mixers. These
alumni don't give a damn about Butler College being torn down
as a post-1970 addition to the campus, Butler College doesn't exist
for them, nor does anything south of Patton Hall, the Hadrian's
Wall of their sentimental, benevolent old imaginations.
For a while it looked as though Chancellor Green would go the
way of the Nude Olympics. Construction of the Frist Campus Center
was underway. Chancellor Green was just breaking even on costs,
and the café was open on an increasingly limited basis. Even
the graduate students weren't turning out as they had in the past.
A campaign begun in the spring of 2000 to keep the facility open
had petered out by the fall, and Chancellor Green was quietly shut
down. Then Frist came along and everyone was happy again. Dining
Services, in a gesture homage or nose-thumbing, depending
on your perspective to the defunct student center, named
one of the offerings in the new Frist deli the "Chancellor
Green Wrap." As in, "That's a wrap, Chancellor Green
now Frist is the big boy on campus."
For a while it was all over, and then suddenly it wasn't.
Turns out the rumors of the demise of Chancellor Green have been
Thanks to a lavish financial gift by Gerhard Andlinger '52, Chancellor
Green has been renovated as part of a larger Center for the Humanities.
The newly renovated facility houses a reading room and two seminar
rooms. Most important, it houses a café.
Anthony Grafton, chair of the Council of the Humanities, said
in a recent Daily Princetonian article that Dining Services, which
is responsible for the food at both Frist and the new Chancellor
Green café, would be "creative" in keeping the
two facilities unique. There are some culinary differences. The
fare at Café Vivian is decent, but the cinnamon rolls and
muffins get snapped up fast, leaving only green biscotti for the
evening study crowd. Chancellor Green Café sells elegant
salads and a pricey little confection called the "pyramid brownie"
that goes for $1.50. It also serves Small World Coffee, in the same
Small World cups, minus the foamy cappuccino and hipster employees
indigenous to the original venue.
The new Chancellor Green Café is, unfortunately, characterless,
but there's plenty of time to fix that. Already it has some advantages
over Café Vivian, including more internet hook-ups and better
lighting. The downside? There aren't any decorations on the walls
no blown-up, vintage covers of the Tiger or snapshots of
the 1893 freshman/sophomore snowball fight and, as my friend
Seth put it, "The music sucks."
Two years ago, when it was announced that a 10,400 square-foot,
two-story building would be built between Joseph Henry House and
Firestone Library in a traditional 19th century style, no one expected
that the building would end up looking like the tack house of a
moderately prosperous Midwestern farmer.
The facility as yet unnamed, as yet unfinished houses
European Cultural studies, Hellenic studies, and Judaic studies.
The completion of this project is the last stage in establishing
the Andlinger Center for the Humanities, an endeavor that began
with the renovation of East Pyne and the Joseph Henry House.
Inside the new building a few days ago, Modern Greek 102 was in
session as heavy construction work took place outside. No one in
the class could hear the lecturer. The situation brought to mind
the scene in A Beautiful Mind when Jennifer Connelly leans out the
window and asks the construction workers to hold off on the jack
hammering so she can hear Russell Crowe explain Fourier Theory.
In an example of Greek class failing to imitate art, we did nothing.
The lecturer carried on, trying to speak above the roar, until she
suddenly froze and pointed to the back of the classroom. We looked
up from our books as the enormous yellow scoop of a bulldozer pivoted
menacingly, inquisitively, inches away from the window. It was like
the scene in Jurassic Park, right before the T. Rex rips the top
off the Jeep and goes for the blond girl. As the bulldozer operator
cruised by in profile, he turned to us and grinned.
Survey on Race, Survey on Dillon Gym Facilities, Survey on...Colin
These days there's a lot standing between exercise buffs and a
visit to Dillon Gym. For starters, there's the governor of New Jersey
at least, everyone says it's the governor who visits
the gym early in the morning to use the elliptical machine and do
some light weightlifting. The governor has a posse a couple
of guys with wires in their ears follow him around and a
black SUV with tinted windows.
For the past week, a second impediment to easy access has come
in the form of six laptop computers in the lobby of Dillon Gym.
The attendant won't let gym users pass through the turnstile until
they first take a brief computerized survey, responding to questions
on gender, affiliation alum, undergraduate, graduate student,
professor... and the one-or-two facilities they plan to use.
The intent is to pinpoint those facilities that receive the most
use, and to make improvements accordingly. Wily students on club
sports teams, seeking better accommodations, encouraged their teammates
to make frequent excursions to Dillon and surreptitiously take the
survey several times before entering the gym. A group of even wilier
students, out for personal gain or out to pull one over on the university,
tried to walk off with one of the laptops, but was foiled at the
last minute by the attendant.
The computer has become an important tool for gauging university
sentiment. All elections for the Undergraduate Student Government
take place electronically, as do most assessments, most recently
the Survey on Race and Campus Environment, a thirty-question survey
that asked such questions as "How would you rank the racial/ethnic
integration of the student body" and "How did your high
school environment differ from that at Princeton in terms of racial/ethnic
Given the prevalence of the computer as democratic tool, it came
as a surprise that when the inaugural Crystal Tiger Award was awarded
on Friday to Secretary of State Colin Powell on behalf of all undergraduates
at Princeton, it was done so without the vote electronic
or otherwise of all undergraduates at Princeton. In reality,
it was a group of four students operating without input or
nominations from their other 4,638 colleagues who selected
The Prince published an editorial decrying the award-by-oligarchy:
"The undergraduate student body gives the award, its presenters
claim, to 'agents of progress' who have 'shown us a richer humanity
and inspired us to pursue it.' But Powell shouldn't be receiving
the award tomorrow. It is not an award from the undergraduates."
The editorial went on to concede that "it's difficult to get
someone of Powell's stature to come to campus to accept an award,"
a nice way of saying that it is unlikely that Powell would have
come to Princeton to accept the Crystal Tiger Award if it had been
given on behalf of Rishi Jaitly '04, Jacqueline Perlman '05, Harrison
Frist '06, and Russell Barnes '07.
You can reach Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org